In the summer of 2022, we were criticised on Twitter and in the Jewish press after working with some freelancers and using some educational examples that caused offence to people in the Jewish community.

We apologised unreservedly and took some immediate steps to address the issues. Since then we’ve been reaching out and listening to lots of people in the Jewish community. And we are implementing an action plan to ensure confidence in our work.

Our immediate actions last summer included:

  • an investigation into what happened (which can be found here),
  • a public acknowledgement of our mistakes (here),
  • formal adoption of the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism (which we already used in our schools programme),
  • the introduction of a robust due diligence process for vetting everyone we work with.

Through the autumn of 2022, along with our trustees, I had lots of conversations with individuals and organisations in the Jewish community. The dialogue is ongoing. I still have people to see and more to learn, but I am truly grateful to everyone who has given their views so far. These conversations have brought home just how much hurt we caused, at the same time as showing the care and generosity of the Jewish community in wanting to help us.

I now see three different aspects to the issue:

  1. Things we got wrong, which we need to apologise for and put right. These include our failures in due diligence and the need for Jewish experience to be better integrated into the culture of the organisation.
  2. Things we need to communicate better. These include communicating the thoroughness with which our education programme addresses antisemitism and the Holocaust, and the care we take to teach about Anne Frank’s Jewish identity and experience.
  3. Things we feel proud of and want to stand by. These include the facts that we have worked on all forms of prejudice since we were founded by Eva Schloss and other friends of Otto Frank over 30 years ago, and that we have robust evidence of our impact on antisemitism as well as other forms of prejudice.

The media coverage last summer seemed to make many in the Jewish community aware for the first time that the Anne Frank Trust does not focus solely on antisemitism. Given our errors in due diligence, it is understandable that this discovery raised acute questions in people’s minds. We need to explore these questions fully, see how well we can answer them, and improve our practice in the light of what we find.

As the charity licenced exclusively to use Anne Frank’s life and work for educational purposes in the UK, it is crucial that we have sufficient trust from the mainstream Jewish community.

The Restoring Trust Plan agreed by our board includes:

  • Further training and support for our staff and trustees about Jewish life and antisemitism.
  • Improvements to our external communications to ensure that we convey pride in our Jewish identity as well as the way we work on all forms of prejudice.
  • A new post of Jewish Cultural Manager in our staff team – to guide us in our learning and help us connect with Jewish communities. Austen Garth arrived in this post in February 2023.
  • Four new Advisory Members of our board committees – to bring more Jewish voices and expertise about antisemitism into our governance.
  • An independent review of our education provision, overseen by an advisory group of key organisations and individuals from the Jewish community. The advisory group is being chaired by Marie van der Zyl OBE, President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews.

We are currently advertising for a consultant or company to carry out the independent review, which will look at all aspects of our education provision, as well as the management and governance that support it. The advisory group is meeting for the first time in March 2023. I expect the process will take 6 months, and we will publish the full recommendations along with our board’s response.

The key questions for the review include:

  • How effective is our education provision in addressing antisemitism?
  • Does our focus on all forms of prejudice dilute the Jewish identity of Anne Frank or the Holocaust?
  • How authentic is our teaching of Jewish life and experience?

To help answer the first of these questions, I asked our research partners at the University of Kent to pay particular attention to antisemitism in our 2022 evaluation of impact. Their full report can be found here. Their conclusions (that our education programme “continues to be highly effective in addressing prejudice” and “impacts not only on antisemitism but on prejudice generally”) along with the growth of our reach (in 2022 we educated 92,000 school pupils, more than double the previous year) help show the Anne Frank Trust’s unique and enduring value.

This is the evidence that justifies the enthusiasm of our partner schools and the loyal generosity of our hundreds of supporters in the Jewish community and beyond. But I am vividly and humbly aware that, for others who feel let down by our failures, significant questions remain to be answered. I just hope the actions set out here show how open we are to looking at those questions and to addressing the understandable concerns.

All of us here at the Anne Frank Trust team are determined to learn from our mistakes and to earnd the widespread trust that this vitally needed charity so richly deserves.

If you have questions or comments on any of this, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Tim Robertson

Chief Executive